Click here to complete the CPT eligibility form to see if you can start the CPT application process!

Welcome to the ISSS website's comprehensive guide on Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 students.

ISSS Office hosts CPT in-person and online information sessions every semester. If you could not make it to the information session, please click here to watch recorded videos and/or click here to view the presentation slides. To watch the recorded video on tips to find internships/jobs in the U.S. for international students, click here

CPT offers an exciting opportunity to engage in valuable off-campus internships for enrolled full-time students who meet the following eligibility:

  • Per immigration regulation, CPT applicants must be enrolled full-time for at least one academic year; and
  • Per institutional policy, CPT applicants must be in a junior class status or higher or a graduate student.

This practical experience allows students to apply their classroom knowledge in real-world settings and gain a competitive edge in their chosen fields.

Here's what you can expect in each Section of this guide:

  • Section 1: This section will provide all information regarding important rules and regulations related to work authorization that must be followed by all international students
  • Section 2: This section is a thorough guide on how to apply for CPT, including all necessary documents and more. 
  • Section 3: This section will provide important reminders for CPT participants.

Section 1: Important Rules

Please keep in mind that CPT applicants cannot begin the internship before they receive the CPT-authorized I-20 per immigration regulations.

To reiterate, any off-campus internship you participate in as an F-1 visa holder must be approved by the ISSS Office and formally noted on your Form I-20 before you can begin participating in your training experience in the U.S.

The entire CPT authorization process takes 2~4 weeks so please plan accordingly. The ISSS Office will work with you to get your CPT authorized in a timely manner.

Can I begin my internship before receiving the CPT-authorized I-20? NO!

Please note that working your position prior to completing the CPT authorization process is considered unauthorized work.

All F-1 visa holders who applied for CPT must receive CPT-authorized Form I-20 before they start the internship.

Any unauthorized work will result in the immediate termination of your Form I-20 as well as long-term negative consequences on your ability to be considered for future immigration benefits.

Do I need to be enrolled in the internship class? YES!

CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training and federal regulations require that internship/co-op/training must be:

  • Curricular (meaning for academic credit);
  • And "an integral part of an established curriculum;"
  • And directly related to your major degree program

Therefore, the internship position must be tied to your academic program (major). In other words, all F-1 visa holders who would like to engage in an internship must be enrolled in the internship class offered by SUNY Oswego. 

As long as CPT participants are enrolled in the internship course, the internship can be paid or unpaid. Even some unpaid internships and volunteering experiences must count as CPT!

NOTE: True volunteer work is donating your time to an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian, without remuneration (pay) or any other type of compensation. Volunteering is not the same as an unpaid internship and it does not require CPT authorization. If you are not sure if the position/opportunity that you are interested in would count as volunteer work, please reach out to us at isss@oswego.edu

Will my participation in CPT affect my eligibility for OPT? MAYBE!

There are two types of CPT: Part-time (less than 20 hours per week) and full-time (more than 20 hours per week). 

It is worth noting that 12 months or more of full-time CPT eliminates eligibility for OPT. Also, if you are working on campus (including assistantships), on-campus employment plus CPT together cannot exceed 20 hours per week while school is in session (Fall and Spring)!

Do I need to go through the CPT process for on-campus positions? NO!

CPT is different from on-campus employment!

Any international student can work on-campus for SUNY Oswego during their degree and it does not necessarily count as CPT. 

That being said, if the on-campus position that you are interested in requires you to be enrolled in an internship class, you will need to work with EXCEL and complete the ISSS internship acknowledgment form. You will not be issued CPT Form I-20 and you will learn more below. 

I am offered an unpaid internship, do I still need to go through CPT? YES!

Whether it is a paid or unpaid internship, all F-1 international students must obtain the CPT-approved I-20 before they engage in internships off campus. To learn more about the CPT, please refer to the CPT presentation slides

Section 2: How to apply for CPT

All international students applying for CPT (Cirricular Practical Training) must complete each of the following steps prior to begining their internships.

Please note that international students are advised to plan as the CPT process can take 2-4 weeks to complete.

Step 1. Confirm your eligibility with the ISSS Office

To begin the CPT Application process, F-1 visa holders must complete the eligibility form by clicking here. By doing so, you are confirming that...

  • You have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year; and
  • You are in a junior class status or higher or a graduate student; and
  • You meet the minimum GPA requirement*; and
  • You completed the Prior Felony Questionnaire

*SUNY Oswego requires you to have a minimum GPA to complete the internship/co-op (Usually the minimum requirement is a 2.5 GPA but it may defer depending on the major). If you have questions regarding the minimum GPA requirement, please reach out to EXCEL at excel@oswego.edu.

Once you submit the form, you will hear back from us regarding your eligibility within 1~3 business days.

If you meet the eligibility, you will be given access to CPT Portal. If not, you will receive comments on why you are not meeting the eligibility. 

Step 2. Have your supervisor complete the Site Verification Form

CPT applicants who meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) will be given access to the CPT portal.

From there, you will be instructed to share the Site Verification Form with your employer (supervisor). The completed form by your employer allows the EXCEL Office to assist you with evaluating internship experiences for course credit. Please email EXCEL at excel@oswego.edu if you have questions about the evaluation process.

Only students whose Internship/Co-op site verification form is approved can proceed to the next step.

Once the site verification form, completed by your employer, is approved by EXCEL, upload it to your learning agreements (Handshake Experiences). 

Please allow 1-2 business days for your CPT Application portal to be updated and acknowledge the retrieval of your Site Verification Form.

Step 2.1 BHI 698, counseling program and student teaching program students ONLY

IMPORTANT: Students who will partake in an internship to complete the graduate-level counseling program or student teaching program or will be enrolled in BHI 698 do not need a completed Site Verification Form. 

Instead, you will need to complete the site verification waiver form in the CPT portal. To complete the waiver form, you would need to upload the following document:

  • An unofficial transcript that shows the internship class (To retrieve the unofficial transcript, go to MyOswego Account then click "Student Profile" and "Academic Transcripts". You will be able to save the page as a PDF file.)

Additionally, the CPT portal will ask you to complete the ISSS internship and co-op acknowledgment form once your site verification form waiver request is approved. 

Once you submit the waiver form, it will take 1~3 business day for the ISSS office to review your waiver request.

Step 3. Internship & Co-op Acknowledgement

Once your CPT Application has been updated to indicate the approval of your Site Verification Form, your next step will be to complete the International Student Internship & Co-op Acknowledgement form.

When completing this form it is important that you provide accurrate information regarding your employer and acadmeic advisor.

The ISSS Office will be utilizing the Academic Advisor information provided in your 'International Student Internship & Co-op Acknowledgement form' to appropriately reach out to your Academic Advisor

In addition, the ISSS Office highly recommends that you read each check box in your International Student Internship & Co-op Acknowledgement form. As a CPT applicant, it is your right and responsibility understand the immigration rules associated with your CPT application.

Please note that the mandatory electronic signature on this form indicates your agreements to abide by all of the listed rules associated with Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Step 4. Academic Advisor Recommendation

Approval from your Academic Advisor is mandatory in order to be approved for Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

*NOTE: ISSS advisors are your immigration advisor not academic advisor. Your academic advisor information can by found on MyOswego. 

Based on the information you provide in the CPT portal, your academic advisor will receive the recommendation request from the ISSS office. Thus, you do NOT need to reach out to your Academic Advisor to receive a CPT Academic Advisor Recommendation.

However, you are more than welcome to reach out to your Academic Advisor to inform them that should expect ISSS to reach out to them.

Once the ISSS Office receives your Academic Advisor's Recommendation, please allow 1-2 business days for your CPT Application portal to be updated.

Step 5. Internship Class Registration

Once your academic advisor submits the recommendation letter for your CPT participation, the EXCEL Office will proceed in assisting you in registering for a class.

It is essential to follow the instructions provided by SUNY Oswego's EXCEL Office and ensure that the internship experience meets the necessary requirements for course credit evaluation. Class registration can take 3~5 business days.

Upon successful course registration, you will receive an email from the EXCEL office.

Step 6. Receive the CPT-Authorized Form I-20

Once the ISSS Office confirms your enrollment in a credit earning internship course, our office will begin the processes of your CPT Recommended Form I-20 within 1~3 business days. 

Once your CPT Recommended Form I-20 is ready, your application will appear as shown below.

Please note, to retrieve your CTP Recommended Form I-20, you will need to select the hyperlink that states 'view'.

Download this Form I-20 and print it out. Once your CPT Recommended Form I-20 is completed, put your wet signature under the STUDENT ATTESTATION section with a pen.

Students must keep all issued Form I-20s as they may need them when they apply for OPT, etc.

Section 3: I got my CPT-authorized I-20, what's next?

Now that you are authorized to engage in the internship, please read through the important visa rules for CPT participants. 

How can I apply for Social Security Number?

The application process for obtaining the Social Security Number (SSN) is well outlined here

As you can see, the first step is to have employers provide the employment verification letter that includes the following information:

  • Employer name

  • Position title

  • Rate of pay

  • Working hours

  • Employment start date

  • Employment end date

Students who obtained the employment verification letter can submit it to the Employment Letter Submission Form for SSN Application (New)

Once the student submits the Employment Letter Submission Form for SSN Application (New) form, the student will receive an email from us within 1~3 business days with the information on what to do next. 

Confirm your CPT start and end date!

When you receive your CPT-authorized Form I-20, please print it out and sign it with a pen under the Student Attestation section.

Importantly, please look at page 2 and confirm the CPT start date and end date. Note that you cannot participate in this internship outside of the dates indicated on your I-20. If you'd like to extend your internship for the next term, you should go through the CPT process again. 

Similarly, if you would like to change your employer, you should go through the CPT authorization process again.

What if I would like to discontinue my internship participation?

CPT participants should not drop the course without consulting it with EXCEL and ISSS. If you would like to discontinue your internship participation, please reach out to EXCEL at excel@oswego.edu and ISSS at isss@oswego.edu

If you have any questions regarding your internship participation, please do not hesitate to reach out to EXCEL and ISSS.